The final two figures of a drugs gang that had access to a terrifying haul of guns and grenades have been jailed.

John Farrell and Joseph Harding's sentencing marked the culmination of a major investigation that led to the downfall of a gang led by Terence and Anthony Nash.

Both Farrell and Harding helped prop up the brothers as they presided over a network of misery and exploitation in Kirkby.

The Nash brothers' drugs conspiracy unravelled in September 2019 when drugs, cash and weapons were seized as police struck after placing gang members under surveillance.

Crucial to the investigation - codenamed Operation Bandit - was a police stop on gang courier Harding and an extensive search of warehouseman Farrell's home.

Merseyside Police had already raided one of the group's safehouses, seizing £32,980 and cocaine worth up to £29,000, when they watched Anthony Nash, Farrell and Harding hold talks at Farrell’s Minstead Avenue home on the evening of September 19.

John Farrell, 40 and of Minstead Avenue in Kirkby, admitted two counts of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracies to possess a firearm, ammunition, an explosive substance and to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed for 16 years
John Farrell, 40 and of Minstead Avenue in Kirkby, admitted two counts of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracies to possess a firearm, ammunition, an explosive substance and to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed for 16 years

Following the meeting officers stopped Harding shortly after he left the property in his Toyota Avensis.

Inside his pocket was 492g of cocaine with a purity of 87% and a potential street value of between £19,714 and £49,287.

A separate police team swooped on the Minstead Avenue venue of the meeting, arresting Farrell and discovering a locked safe bolted to the wall.

The safe was removed, opened and, inside, 7kg of cocaine with a potential street value of between £277,305 and £691,487 was revealed.

The packaging of those drugs was forensically linked to both Nash brothers.

A search team then returned to the property, discovering an arsenal of weapons hidden in the loft.

A revolver found among a cache of weapons seized in a home in Kirkby. Image: Merseyside Police
A revolver found among a cache of weapons seized in a home in Kirkby. Image: Merseyside Police

Farrell, 40 and of Minstead Avenue, admitted two counts of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracies to possess a firearm, ammunition, an explosive substance and to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed for 16 years at Manchester Crown Court yesterday.

Joseph Harding, 55 and of Cawthorne Avenue, Kirkby admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to six years and four months
Joseph Harding, 55 and of Cawthorne Avenue, Kirkby admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to six years and four months

Joseph Harding, 55 and of Cawthorne Avenue, Kirkby admitted conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to six years and four months at the same hearing.

Jurors who sat on the Nash brothers’ trial last year acquitted Anthony of any involvement with the weapons.

But Terence was convicted of a series of firearms offences.

Brothers Terence Nash, left, and Anthony Nash, ran a drug dealing gang in Kirkby. Image: Merseyside Police
Brothers Terence Nash, left, and Anthony Nash, ran a drug dealing gang in Kirkby. Image: Merseyside Police

Anthony Nash, of Bracknall Close in the Southdene area of Kirkby, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to possess criminal property. The 36 year old was sentenced to 15 years and six months at a Manchester Crown Court hearing last month.

Terence Nash, 35, was sentenced to 24 years after being convicted of two counts of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life and conspiracies to possess a firearm, ammunition, an explosive substance and criminal property.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.